Posted 4/9/07

This activity uses multiple contextualised examples of ‘can’ and ‘could’ – 18 DVD covers, each with a title that contains one of the target auxiliaries. The images were obtained using, a fantastic resource for any English tecaher (click here for a video that explains all). The images are provided in the accompanying PDF slideshow which can be downloaded below.
  • Language level: Pre-intermediate (A2) +
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Main activity: Translation
  • Topic: Films and cinematography
  • Language: Can and could
  • Materials: Slide show
Can & could DVD titles: Lesson plan pdf [downloaded 2800 times] Can & could DVD titles: Slideshow pdf [downloaded 2696 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Tell your students you have 18 DVD covers to show them (or less if you decide to exclude some of the images).
  2. Show the slideshow to your students. For each image, do the following:
    • Drill pronunciation of the title (i.e. the target language)
    • Make sure students comprehend the language
    • Ask students to consider how they would translate each title into their own language.
  3. Points for the translation:

    • For monolingual classes, encourage everyone to come to a consensus translation for each title.
    • For multilingual classes, students can work on their own. Alternatively, students with the same mother tongue can work together to come to consensus translations.
    • Ask everyone to write down their translations on the left hand side of their notebooks (see image below). It is important that students write down the translations in their own language only. They should not be writing any English at this stage.

  4. Once everyone has a list of all the DVD titles in their own language, ask them to try and translate them back into English (in the absence of the slideshow of course). Students can now write the original English titles on the right hand side of their notebooks.
  5. Let individuals pair up or form small groups and compare their results.
  6. Play the slideshow again and allow your students to correct their work.
  7. Put students into pairs and ask them to test each other: While one student reads out the translated titles one at a time, the other attempts to remember them in English. Roles are then reversed.


This activity could be given to a class in response to the question: What is the difference between ‘can’ and ‘could’? Following the activity, learners could attempt to form the rules themselves before comparing their ideas with those in a standard learner grammar book.

Posted 4/9/07

Comments are closed.